Rancho Guejito Tapped Groundwater Deep in San Pasqual Valley. Some Farmers Aren’t Happy About It.

Hank Rupp stands on the edge of a holding pond on the historic Rancho Guejito — more than 22,000 acres purchased nearly 50 years ago by the now-deceased shipping mogul Benjamin Coates and considered by many the ecological crown jewel of San Diego County.

The 20-foot-deep reservoir — fed in part by several 1,000-foot wells dug on a more recently acquired property — is vital to the transformation of Rancho Guejito into a working agribusiness.

Contamination a ‘Huge Challenge’ For Affordable Drinking Water in California

Francisco Diaz remembers when the water piped to his home in the Central Valley community of Monterey Park Tract made everything smell rotten, including himself.

“We had to take our clothes and go to the city and wash it over there because if you had washed it here and put it on, you’d stink,” said Diaz, who heads the Monterey Park Tract Community Service District, a form of specialized local government. “We couldn’t even take showers.”

Unsurprisingly, the water was undrinkable. Agricultural run-off, heavy in potentially toxic nitrates, had contaminated both wells that supplied water to Monterey Park Tract, nestled amid the crop fields and dairy farms of Stanislaus County.

Do Your Job, Gov. Newsom — End Water Wars for State and Stanislaus Fish and Farmers

Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to declare drought in most of California, including here, is no reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the party hats.

They know full well that words on a declaration will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and row crops.

A Number of Factors in Declaring Drought in California

There are a number of factors to consider when declaring a state of emergency. After a dry water year, little to zero water allocations, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declaring drought conditions in counties up and down the state and even the entire republican delegation sending letters Governor Gavin Newsom, Congressman Jim Costa said declaring drought can be tricky.

Environmental Groups say Newsom’s Water Plan Will Worsen Toxic Threat in the Delta

At the end of July, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his revised plan for bringing long-term water security to all Californians. But his announcement was overshadowed by San Joaquin County and several Delta communities scrambling to confront the worst cases of toxic algae blooms ever seen on local sloughs and rivers.

These green, floating slicks brought a new level of criticism to Newsom’s agribusiness-friendly water proposal. That’s because the governor’s strategy relies in large part on the controversial Sites Reservoir proposal and the even more contentious Delta tunnel proposal. Conservation groups say both projects—particularly the tunnel—could worsen the problem of dangerous algae contamination in regional waterways.

Meanwhile, the state continues to spend large sums of money on both multibillion-dollar projects with little clarity on who will ultimately foot the bill as the COVID-19 pandemic drains evermore revenue from public agencies.

Proposed Ordinance Would Promote and Protect Agriculture

A proposed county ordinance that would implement California’s AB 551 is seen as benefiting local agriculture by recognizing its benefits, according to the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

New Federal Guidelines for Diverting California Water to Take Effect Soon

The war over California’s water between Governor Gavin Newsom and the Trump administration is at a crossroads, with new federal guidelines loosening the restrictions on water pumping set to take effect soon. The new guidelines call for diverting more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to agribusiness and urban areas further south. Barbara Barrigan-Parilla with the group Restore the Delta, says despite Newsom indicating he was going to sue over the new federal guidelines, that hasn’t happened yet.

Opinion: Newsom Can’t Have It Both Ways On California Water

It’s been a month since Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to sue the Trump administration to block stepped-up federal water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to agribusiness and urban areas further south.